YouTube has agreed to comply with The European Commission’s request to switch to standard quality streams in an effort to avoid bandwidth overload in the European Union. As per a Reuters report, the Alphabet-owned video-streaming platform has said that it’s “temporarily switching all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”
The move comes a day later Netflix announced it’s throttling bit rates across all of its streams in Europe for 30 days — a step that’s expected to reduce the company’s traffic on European networks by about 25 percent.
Unlike Netflix, YouTube hasn’t revealed yet till when its videos will be capped at SD quality and how much impact it would have on the region’s bandwidth. We’ve reached out to YouTube and will update the post once we hear back.
As the coronavirus outbreak places countries in lockdown, people holed up in their homes have turned to online tools and platforms for both work and entertainment — causing a sudden spike in internet usage. Research and analytics firm, Neilson estimates social distancing and quarantines “can lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of content we watch in some cases and potentially more depending on the reasons.”
Streaming services traffic, as a result, is expected to grow manyfold in the coming days. Twitch viewership, for instance, is reportedly already up by 10-percent. One of Europe’s leading network operators, Vodafone has said internet traffic in a handful of countries has surged by up to 50%.
To ensure this surge of traffic doesn’t end up clogging Europe’s internet lines and infrastructure, European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton has urged streaming platforms to downgrade their stream resolutions to SD from HD until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control.
“Teleworking & streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary,” Mr.Breton wrote in a tweet.
In addition to this, YouTube is rolling out a new section on its website and app’s homepage that will feature official, fact-checked COVID-19 videos. “We want everyone to have access to authoritative content during this trying time, so we’re launching a COVID-19 news shelf on our homepage in 16 countries. We’ll expand to more countries, as well,” the company said in a tweet.